How to build trust, be playful and achieve more

Do you ever feel that when you arrive at work, you leave a bit of you at the door that you collect on your way out at the end of the day?


In our desire to be professional, successful and climb the career ladder we have a tendency to leave our authentic selves at the door. And in my experience, the majority of the organisations we work for perpetuate that overly professional culture with the expectation that we do serious work at our desks to achieve serious target-driven KPIs.


Of course, you have a serious and important job, whether that’s managing data, researching prospects, supporting a team or asking for money directly. However leaving our true selves at the door doesn’t necessarily help us do a better job; in fact it could even be detrimental to achieving our targets.


We do our best work with people we know, like and trust. Stephen Covey in his book Speed of Trust makes the case that a higher level of trust amongst colleagues, suppliers and business partners makes for faster deals and better results.


Hawskmoor, a rapidly growing restaurant in London, actively attributes much of its success for employing people for their individual personalities. They are encouraged to bring their true selves to work – eccentricities and all. The customer service experience at Hawksmoor is always exceptional and always different depending entirely on the personality of the person serving you. You can hear more here in an interview with Will Beckett of Hawskmoor.


Innocent, the smoothie impresario, is famous for its playful brand and quirky astroturfed HQ in London. Their office is spread over four open-plan floors and seating is allocated randomly for maximum interaction with people from different functions. The canteen is the central point for staff to gather, chat over a cup of tea (or a smoothie), get to know each other and is recognised as an important part of getting work done.


John Durham, Head of Environment at Innocent, who was responsible for the decision to knock out most of one floor so that the canteen would be more appealing said, “We get a lot more good business done a lot more quickly than we would in a more traditional set-up.”


You don’t have to astroturf your office to achieve a more playful and productive work environment. There are small changes that all of us can make to modify our working lives and help to achieve better results, for example:


• Notice if you leave your authentic self at the door and make a conscious effort to bring it to work next time!


• Take time to get to know your colleagues over a cup of tea or coffee, both in your own team and different departments. You will find out about their skills, experiences and different perspectives that might help you in your work.

• Practise listening – it sounds obvious, but if you are taking time to ask more questions about your colleagues, it’s wasted unless you really pay attention to their answers.

• Be candid and kind. Sometimes we pussyfoot around a topic if we have a different opinion or don’t agree with someone. In my experience indifference or being unclear, for example by using phrases like, “that’s interesting,” when you really mean “I don’t agree,” breaks trust. Be bolder about your opinion and kind in your delivery. People welcome kind clarity over fudged phrases.

• Take the innovation animals quiz. It’s designed to be playful and also to help you find out more about you and your colleagues approaches to innovation.
We are all different. When we can be ourselves the good stuff happens. And when we work together with people we like and trust the good stuff happens faster – and we all end up advancing our missions faster.



Link to Speed of Trust –

Link to Hawksmoor interview –

Link to innovation animals –

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